Ethics (ECHS 105-01) Syllabus

Ethics (ECHS 105-01) Syllabus
Mr. James Cook

Ongoing Activities & Assessments
  • annotate readings
  • write responses to readings
  • participate in Socratic Seminars
  • create presentations
  • constructed response & short answer questions on unit concepts
  • apply understandings of concepts to real world issues and situations

Unit 1: Meta-Ethics (1) & An Overview of Ethics: Thinking about Right & Wrong (term 1)
  • What is ethics? What is morality? Why are they important?
  • How is ethical thinking, discussion, judgment, and action different from other kinds of thinking, discussion, judgment, and action?
  • How is “ethical thinking” significant to our lives individually and collectively? Why should I be or do this instead of that?

Unit 2:  Meta-ethics (2): Making arguments about right & wrong (term 1)
  • How can we make and understanding arguments in a way that is honest and respectful?
  • How can understanding logic help us understand and discuss ethics?

Unit 3: Meta-Ethics (3): Moral relativism (term 1)
  • Can judgments about what is right and wrong be determined to be true or false for everyone?

Unit 4: Normative Ethics (1): An Overview (term 1)
  • What sort of people should we be? What sort of actions should we perform? (Who should I be and what should I do?)
  • Is right and wrong determined by the consequences of actions or by the intrinsic value  if things or qualities of actions?

Unit 5: Normative Ethics (2): Ethics Based on Self-Interest (term 2)
  • Why should I be moral?
  • Is the right action the action that is best for the person taking the action?

Unit 6: Normative Ethics (3): Ethics Based on the Greatest Happiness for the Most People (Utilitarianism) (term 2)
  • Is the right action the action that produces the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people?
  • What if other moral principles--justice, fairness, personal integrity--interfere with happiness?

Unit 7: Normative Ethics (4): Ethics Based on Value (Axiology) (term 2)
  • What makes good things (outcomes, ends, states of being) good? (What gives things moral value?)

Unit 8: Normative Ethics (5): Ethics Based on Religion (Religious Deontology) (term 2)
  • Is there a relationship between religion and morality? For you? For others? Should there be?

Unit 9: Normative Ethics (6): Ethics Based on Duties (Kantian Deontolgy) (term 2/3)
  • Why are human actions--but not animal or natural actions--judged as right or wrong?
  • How do free will and reason make human choices susceptible to morality (i.e. being considered right or wrong)?
  • Do we have a duty to do what is right--even when it produces no benefit for ourselves or others?

Unit 10: Normative ethics (9): Ethics Based on Both Duties & Consequences (Ross’s Moral Theory) (term 3)
  • Should right and wrong be determined by considering our duties and whether or not our actions contribute to fulfilling those duties?
  • How can this approach help us make moral decisions in our lives?

Unit 11: Normative ethics (10): Ethics Based on Justice as Fairness (Rawls’s Theory of Justice) (term three)
  • How can understanding just and fair help us understand what is right and good (i.e. moral)?

Unit 12: Normative ethics (11): Ethics Based on Being a Good Person (Virtue Ethics) (term three)
  • Which question is more important to the study and application of ethics, what should I do in a particular circumstance or what kind of person should I be in general?

Unit 13: Applied Ethics (term four)
  • How can we apply the ethical thinking and concepts we have learned this year to the most significant ethical dilemma’s of the 21st century?
Final project on a 21st century ethical dilemma involving connecting, wondering, investigating, constructing, expressing, and reflecting within the realm of applied ethics. (The expressing step will take the problem to an audience beyond the classroom.)

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